Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 23 (Jan Patočka)

Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History
Patočka, Jan
Heretical Essays in the Philsophy of History

Purchased at Talking Leaves Books for a graduate seminar with Rodolphe Gasché. I don't remember the specific name of the course, but it also included Hegel and Husserl. I read all three, I think, as part of my oral exam reading list on the philosophy of history, which Gasché moderated.

This is another of those books I have read thoroughly, even going so far as to underline text and mark pages to which I meant to return, yet I remember very little of it. Opening it now, I recall some of the opening sentences about defining the "natural world" but the gist of the thing is not coming back to me at all. Maybe I'll read it again some day.

Once again I am reminded that no matter how much I actually remember about my life, I have forgotten infinitely more.

from Heretical Essays in the Philsophy of History

At the dawn of history, Heraclitus of Ephesus formulated his idea of war as that divine law which sustains all human life. He did not mean thereby war as the expansion of "life" but as the preponderance of the Night, of the will to freedom of risk in the aristeia, holding one's own at the limit of human possibilities which the best choose when they opt for lasting fame in the memory of mortals in exchange for an ephemeral prolongation of the comfortable life. This war is the father of the laws of the polis as of all else: it shows some to be slaves and others to be free; yet even free human life still has a peak above it. War can show that among the free some are capable of becoming gods, of touching the divinity of that which forms the ultimate unity of being. Those, though, are the ones who understand that polemos is nothing one-sided, that it does not divide but unites, that adversaries are only seemingly whole, that in reality they belong to each other in the common shaking of the everyday, that they have thus touched that which lasts in everything and forever because it is the source of all being and is thus divine.

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